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Progress in Optimal Balance for My Horse – A REAL Breakthrough

I’m not sure where to begin on this one, so I’ll just jump in.  I have had such a challenging journey with my mare over the past couple years after realizing that she was in pain (from an old injury it turns out) and all that has meant in trying to find the source and a way to fix it…all while having a strong desire to really make progress in my Parelli journey.  Needless to say, there have been moments where my emotional fitness was tested.  There are lots of stories and lots of experiences, but it comes down to me becoming really aware of what Jim Crew, creator of Healthy Stride, does and the major changes he can make for horses.  I saw him work on a horse of a fellow student in my Course last April at the Parelli Center in Florida.  The horse was not doing well and the owner had expressed to us that she felt at her wit’s end in trying to help her horse.  Well, after Jim shod the horse (and offered for us to watch and ask questions…very interactive), Pam cantered off bareback all over the hillside with a HUGE grin on her face.  I thought, “Ok; I’m now hooked in.  I now see something amazing happening, though I don’t know what it is.”  I knew Jim’s system was going to help my horse.  So, how do I get him to Hawaii?  Time to get active and make this happen:-)  I asked Jim that day if he ever did video consulting and he said, “you’re in Hawaii?  I’ll come to you.”  We laughed.  Well about six months later, Jim was on Oahu doing a presentation.  He assessed my horse and casted the two feet that needed the hip / shoulder lifted and my horse was truly like a different horse almost immediately.  She wanted to move, she picked up her left lead after a couple of transitions, she had a positive expression on her face, etc.  Jim had me get on her bareback and she really wanted to go.  I was so affected by what was happening, I had to stop riding and say to Jim, “I’m so emotional”.  I got off, walked away and cried like a baby.  I couldn’t believe I had been asking my horse to do so much over the years and she’d TRIED even through the pain.  I couldn’t believe I had finally found a way to make her not only comfortable, but feel GOOD.  Whewww!  What a moment!  Well, there were no farriers who turned up to the presentation and the castings didn’t last long.  So, I began trying to recreate what Jim had done with boots and barefoot trimming.  It just wasn’t happening.  I called Jim before my 1 Star Course in February 2011 and set up a 3 day horse owner course with him.  My goal was to learn enough to talk it through with a farrier.  I got back to Hawaii and started talking with my farrier who was willing to try what I asked.  We decided he’d do one more “regular” shoeing (my horse had only been shod for a few weeks as she was always barefoot) and then add the pads to get my horse balanced.  I was unsure of how I would explain what to do…if I could.  Mean time, my second ride on my horse after 6 weeks away was going great and we had cow work to do.  When it came time to be in the corral separating and moving small groups in a small area, she started to shut down.  It quickly became clear she was having some issues with her hips and was off on her right hind.  I knew it was the same old pain and started feeling a bit overwhelmed again wishing I could just fly Jim out here to work on her.  I thought, “this is so difficult to make happen, but I know it’s the solution”.  Well, the farrier called later that day and was coming early the next morning.  My mind started rolling and a plan started forming.  I felt he wasn’t prepared to add the pads and we’d talked about our plan previously, but based on that last ride I was determined to make a change TODAY.  So, I used the red light on my horse, gave her some Vaxamine for pain and thought about what I could get done when the farrier arrived the following morning.  He showed up at 7 as planned and when I asked him to shoe only the two feet where the hip and shoulder needed lifting, he had major concerns and I thought he might refuse.  But, I talked him into it, listening to his concerns and promising to call him if any issues come up.  I also talked to him more about using the pads and asked if he’d do that next time if this helped.  I took my horse out the next day with a plan to focus on circles and jumping  and I could never have predicted how that session would go.  She maintained a trot for 12 circles on the 22′ line, did a flying change easily and kept a positive expression.  She maintained a canter for a full circle to the left picking up a left lead most of the time…great; that’s an improvement.  She was getting exuberant (not her usual demeanor:-)  and I was feeling really connected so I decided to do some Liberty in the small arena.  Stick to me; great…ooohhh there’s grass in the corner.  Catching game…come back to me.  Sideways toward … OMG, she did it at trot for the first time, this is amazing!  Drawing to me, double smooch; No Way!  She’s cantering to me with ears forward…another first!  Okay, I’m gonna try circling.  Ask, allow…she’s doing it at a trot!!!!!!  One lap, two laps…better bring her in before she leaves.  OMG, my horse just circled in an open arena at a trot and stayed with me!!!  So, you get the picture.  She maintained mental connection with me and I ended the session soon after the circling and offered her some yummies while still in the arena.  Honestly, I still feel amazed and am processing that session yesterday.  I truly feel like the sky is the limit with this horse and am so much more convinced that it’s imperative we get them comfortable and pain free as part of putting the relationship first.  It took me so long to realize my horse was in pain, and studying with Jim will be a long term part of my journey, as I can see I have a lot more to learn but have to ensure I have the tools to help any horse I can.  I’m on cloud nine!!!
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